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RESEARCH FINDINGS 0 1 1 PLAY IS WORK 2 “Play is what I do when everyone stops telling me what to do” ettings ART OF LEARNING S Day care 0-4 years old Infants, toddlers and preschoolers were observed in a day care near Delhi, India over few days, as they interacted, communicated, laughed, cried and developed during play. WO R K ’ ‘P L AY I S A aC H I a gDt’ S n Pi L e Preschools Je I have been exploring and unravelling the miracle of play in the 3-6 years old lives of children and adults over the past two years. This newsletter Children in three very distinct settings for preschoolers were shares some of my learnings during Oct-Dec 2011 based on our observed as they played indoors experiences with children 0-8 years in diﬀerent settings. and outdoors. K-12 schoolsTra n sa c tio n o f P l a y 4-8 years old lay is oft used word to At the conference, I presented 3P describe the teaching learning in schools and athome. Universally, synonymous with play stories of young children - how they played, how they developed as they played and impact of presence/ These were very reputed schools near Delhi, India. Children were observed while playing both indoors and outdoors over few weeks, 2-3childhood, play manifests absence of adults on ﬂow during times in a week.diﬀerently and distinctly, but the play.underlying factors and principlesremain the same. Homes Ad u l t s - c a r e g i v e r s , p a r e n t s ,In November 2011, I was asked to educators - were also surveyed and 0-8 years oldpresent my independent research interviewed as I grappled with the In their abodes, children wereon Play at an international nuanced disruptions and observed as they engaged inconference on education. I began facilitations to play due to divergent gender speciﬁc play, open endedformalizing my research and responses from adults. play, board games and role play.analysis beyond conversations, blogs Children were observed over a I extend my gratitude to all those period of two years.and webinars. Although the subjectof my observations were young adults and children, who made thechildren but transaction of play in time to participate in the survey / Open spaces i n te r v i e w s a n d w e l co m e d m ythe lives of children cannot beconstructed without also observing observant presence around them. 2-6 years oldthe adults around them. Play stories of two children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds in India. Copyright 2011 Art of Learning. All rights reserved. Page 1
Research findingsA du lt pe r c e p t i o n s a b o u t p lay Adults PARENTS EDUCATORS / CAREGIVERS 5% Play continues to be pervasively prevalent in the lives of children today as it was ever before, what has changed signiﬁcantly is the attitude and outlook of adults 95% towards play. Yes No Parents Did you play as a child?! Were you playful as a child?! Of 0-4 year olds 15 parents of children 0-4 years old were interviewed through a questionnaire. Another set of 12 27% parents of this age group participated in an online survey. They represented diverse parenting styles and cultural setting from US, Australia, Canada, Europe and India. 73% Of 4-8 years old 15 parents of children 4-8 years old were interviewed through a Yes No questionnaire. Another set of 10 parents of this age group participated Do you play as an adult?! Are you playful as an adult?! in an online survey. They represented diverse parenting styles and cultural While a similar number of educators / setting from US, Canada, Europe and caregivers as parents perceived that India.How we understand and deﬁne play they played as children and as adults.determines how we perceive it in our lives. The latter was a revelation. I had Educators/CaregiversIt is noteworthy that 9% of respondents anticipated a higher percentage offelt that they did not play as children and trained educators / caregivers to Of 0-4 year oldsmore than a quarter of respondents perceive themselves to be playful as adults, since they extensively and 10 educators / caregivers of childrenperceive that that they do not play as 0-4 years old were interviewedadults. intensively interact / engage with through a questionnaire and online younger children who are hard wired to survey. They represented diverse play. pedagogical / cultural setting from US, Australia, Canada, Europe and India.Play has a discernible Of 4-8 years oldspattern to it which 12 educators / caregivers of children 4-8 years old were interviewedbecomes evident as you through a questionnaire and online survey. They represented diverseobserve and listen to pedagogical / cultural setting from US, Canada, Europe and India.children at play. Play is howchildren work. We refrain Practitionersfrom disturbing/disrupting I have learnt immensely from my conversations with my ever expandingan adult at work; do we network of play therapists, play workers, playground designers andexercise that same restrain educators / moms of young children who are playful themselves,while children are at work/ unleashing the power of play in the lives of those around them.play? Copyright 2011 Art of Learning. All rights reserved. Page 2
Playing is paying attentionS ix months a go, I started compiling play stories of children in diﬀerent settings asvisual narrative. The objective is simple using. A very satisﬁed Deepak went to work in the familiar environs of where his parents had placed their belongings, then started the mesmerizing solitary- t o m a ke e x p l i c i t / v i s i b l e t h e play that combined all the attributesdevelopmental processes involved in coveted by employers- creativity,playing, to garner more respect for perseverance, attention to details,unstructured play. Here I share one analysis, synthesis and problem-solving.play story. The next twenty minutes or so I witnessed Deepak perform the most My work, like my life, is work in amazing role play as a laborer p r o g r e s s . Yo u r c o m m e n t s /It was two year old Deepak who hammering away with enviable motor contributions will be valuable for theconclusively and comprehensively evolution of my work. skills, forming creative patterns on dirtdefined play for me through his - with the pointed end of the brick,playfulness. I was on a school campus I can be reached at with the ﬂat side of the brick, with a payal@artoﬂearning.inand decided to take a detour to get to stick that he had found on the ground.where I wanted to go. I walked past an Read about my work: The boy also demonstrated the mostarea where some building repair work versatile and dexterous use of this stone http://www.artoﬂearning.in/was on. Serendipitously, I saw Deepak as a race car, using his vocal cords totailing his father, a construction worker. Connect with me on Facebook: imitate a roaring engine. If this is notDeepak wanted to use his father’s work, serious work, then, what is? https://www.facebook.com/Playisworkimplements but his father shouted athim. A determined Deepak then http://www.facebook.com/rummaged through the rubble for a I continue to collect valuable play Artoﬂearningpiece of broken brick that was shaped stories of young children and aspire tosimilar to the implement his father was collect some play stories of adults. Pl ay St ory Copyright 2011 Art of Learning. All rights reserved. Page 3